Florida beaches have always been a popular attraction to both locals and visitors. Along with hosting millions of visitors each year, Florida beaches are home to a variety of species.
Jellyfish in Florida are common year-round yet they thrive in the months of late July-September. This marine invertebrate may be fascinating to some, and instill fear in others.
Beach-goers in Florida will most likely encounter two types of jellyfish at some point. While this misunderstood marine animal does not aim for humans, at times they can sting you. Jellyfish do not swim; they have a very low ability to push themselves and so the current pushes them across the ocean.
Portuguese man-o-wars though not considered a true jellyfish, are commonly known as bluebottles or blue jellyfish and are most likely to be encountered in Florida's east coasts. Its tentacles can extend 10-15 feet in length allowing them to capture small prey. Though its top sac is harmless, its tentacles contain venom-filled nematocysts that will cause a painful sting to human flesh. This surface dweller at times may brush up on shore, but you should be aware that they remain active when dead.
The moon jellyfish is another resident of Florida waters. Though not as common as the Portuguese man-o-war, the moonfish is still prominent. The tentacles on this translucent animal are shorter than those of the man-o-war. These animals are carnivorous and feed on small crustaceans, larvae, and other smaller organisms. Known predators of the moon jellyfish have been reported to be some species of sharks and turtles. This is why it is so important to keep our oceans clean. Oftentimes, predators will consume plastic bags and bottles, with the impression of it being a moon jellyfish. The moon jellyfish sting is milder than those of a man-o-war.
Like all wildlife, jellyfish should be respected and one should be properly informed on how to treat a sting from these marine invertebrates. Rinsing the area with vinegar will help alleviate the pain, whereas freshwater can help trigger more venom. At times, a tentacle will remain attached to the skin and it is advised one should remove them with tweezers or gloves, one should always avoid direct contact with the tentacle. Jellyfish stings can be extremely painful but in most cases, they do not require medical attention unless you encounter severe side effects such as shortness of breath, chest pains, fainting, or a scratchy throat which indicates you are having a more severe reaction.
Though these animals reside in Florida water, one should not be fearful of these magnificent creatures. They do not mean to inflict harm to humans, but if encountered with one, it's best to keep your distance. Since these animals do not have a brain, it's pretty easy to outsmart a jellyfish!
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